Ben Arredondo: Gets off easy on fraud charges

Betrayal of public trust nets Democrat politician a slap on the wrist

Former state legislator Ben Arredondo has won a legal jackpot in avoiding prison time for his corrupt dealings, netting only 18 months of home confinement and three years probation on charges of public corruption. Additionally, he was fined $5,000 and ordered to pay $540 in restitution — proving that on occasion, crime does pay.

In issuing his light sentence, U.S. District Judge Frederick Martone noted Arredondo’s lack of previous criminal history, health and age as factors, and then bizarrely questioned whether the crimes would have been committed if there had not been a sting operation.

If stings are the culprit, it makes the entire AZSCAM debacle that rocked the Arizona legislature in the early 1990’s, resulting in the downfall of twenty legislators, lobbyists and political insiders seem meaningless. Several served prison sentences, paid hefty restitutions, and were given hundreds of hours of community service.

Ben Arredondo was indicted on federal counts of bribery, mail fraud, false statements and extortion in connection with soliciting and accepting thousands of dollars in sport and charity event tickets along with other perks from FBI undercover agents in exchange for brokering property deals. The crimes occurred while Arredondo was a Tempe City Council member.

In an October plea deal, Democrat Arredondo, 65, pleaded guilty in federal court to two felonies related to public corruption. Each felony count carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 20 years and $250,000 in fines. Up to $50,000 in restitution could also apply. The plea deal included his resignation from the Arizona Legislature.

The plea agreement recommended that he be sentenced to between 27 months and 51 months in prison.

Previously in May 2012, Arredondo pleaded not guilty, but ultimately changed his plea when faced with the mounting body of evidence against him. Still, his lawyer called the charges against his client “manufactured,” and referred to him as “a dedicated public official targeted by the government in D.C.” He said, “Ben Arredondo is not for sale.”

At the time, we questioned why the liberal Obama administration would target a kindred AZ House member.

After serving 16 years on the Tempe City Council, Arredondo was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2010.

The corrupt Arredondo solicited donations for a college scholarship fund he had ostensibly set up for needy students and then provided nearly $50,000 from the account to help his own relatives attend Arizona colleges.

Despite the evidence against him, Democrat short-termer U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell, wrote an absurd letter to the court, in which he compared this crook to President Abraham Lincoln.

It obviously worked.

The 10-page May 16, 2012 indictment (courtesy of the AZ Capitol Times) can be read here.

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13 Responses to Ben Arredondo: Gets off easy on fraud charges

  1. Maggie says:

    My God! What could this judge possibly have been thinking?

  2. BPaluch777@aol.com says:

    Make sure this judge’s record is well publicized when he appears on a retention ballot.

    • Villanova says:

      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but federal judges do not appear on the retention ballot. It’s doubly disappointing bcause Judge Martone is regarded as a strong conservative.

  3. Matt DeGennaro says:

    This is an appallingly light sentence. His relatives who had their college paid for with his fraudulent schemes should chip into the pot that he should be paying from. I’m stunned by this lack of meaningful penalty for an such abuse of the public trust. Where is the accountability?

  4. Night Owl says:

    Odd that this judge would question whether the crimes would have been committed if there had not been a sting operation First of all, there might well have been other crimes that didn’t come to light during the sting but could have preceded it. Also. If a sting is in play, it won’t catch people who are too moral to engage in such deceit. Only those on the take are caught because they are always looking for a quick buck without much exertion. They also think they are too smart ot get caught and pride themselves on gaming the system. I’m very disappointed that this judge let a creep such as this “lawmaker” get off so easily.

  5. blained13 says:

    I would say that I’m surprised but that would be a lie. Doesn’t surprise me that Mitchell would protect a crook, it goes to the character of the person. Not sure what the judge was thinking or if he thought at all but clearly he gave to light of a sentence.

  6. Sally Forth says:

    Arredondo is disgraced and this decision is a stunning disgrace. In today’s world, there is always an excuse for lawbreaking, and oftentimes it works, as we’ve seen here. Age should not be a consideration. His past history has nothing to do with the crimes, to which he admitted. How many crimes were not uncovered? This con artist should have at least been sentenced to the recommended minimums in the plea agreement.

  7. Army Of One says:

    WTF? If this is justice for crimes that could have netted this crook 40 years, a quarter of a million dollars in fines and up to $50,000 in restitution, pigs fly! Judge Martone erred big time on this one!
    Ben Arredondo belongs behind bars.

  8. Tomfoolery says:

    Did the newspaper’s Laurie Roberts ever refer to Arredondo as a “kook,” (or crook) when he was in the legislature or is that term reserved only for Republicans?

  9. LD 7 PC says:

    Proof positive that crime does pay! Arredondo’s family members were able to get free college educations from the phony college fund set up supposedly to benefit impoverished Hispanic kids.

  10. Weary Of Lies says:

    That a man like this could become so entrenched in his political positions is the real shame. (along with this nutty ruling!) Voters cast ballots for familiar names rather than bothering to find out anything about what these people are all about. That’s how the incompetent RINO John McCain keeps getting elected. I’m not talking about doing investigations such as the FBI, but simply attending meetings and getting to know those in positions of power. Most of all, we need to ask hard questions. Ben Arredondo was obviously drunk on his power and used it to connive and cheat. He deserved time behind bars and other penalties such as repayment of scammed money and community service. He should be made to do work with the same people he claimed to be helping but in fact defrauded through his lies. For him to get off this easily is disgusting.

  11. Westnash says:

    I really dont believe in entrapment cases but you can bet this guy was no virgin at taking bribes if he took from developers. The entire city of Phoenix seems to be governed by developers who have caused much of the economic problems over the years and contributed to problems with illegal aliens.

    Hopefully there was some other evidence that the prosecutors had that led them to the sting case. Unfortunately the judge let him off with a slap. At the minimum he should have had huge fines if he was going to avoid jail.

    • Seen It All says:

      Stings or as you call them “entrapment” don’t snag honest people. They are conducted when reasonable suspicion exists. Crooks always rise to the top. What’s not to like?

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